SOUTH KOREA SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 7.jpg
A salesman shows the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 at a store in Seoul, South Korea, 11 October 2016.
Photograph: EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

South Korea's Samsung said it will no longer make its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, following a series of safety scares that have plagued the leading smartphone manufacturer.

"We are discontinuing the Galaxy Note 7 ... we are halting production permanently," a spokesman for the technology giant said.

The Galaxy Note 7 has been hit by safety concerns after numerous reports of the phones catching fire, including devices that were said to have been replaced by Samsung for safer versions.

Earlier Tuesday, Samsung suspended global sales of the smartphone with immediate effect and advised users to power the devices down and hand them in.

"Because consumers' safety remains our top priority, Samsung will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 while the investigation is taking place," the company said.

"Consumers with either an original Galaxy Note 7 or replacement Galaxy Note 7 device should power down and stop using the device and take advantage of the remedies available," it continued.

Shares in Samsung on the Korean stock exchange dropped by 8 per cent following Tuesday's developments, which may seriously damage the firm's chance of challenging US firm Apple in the market for high-end smartphones.

According to the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS), "there is a possibility of a new type of defect in the mobile phone beyond the battery issue," which Samsung had cited as the initial cause for the phones overheating.

Samsung started selling the smartphone on August 19, but announced a global recall of 2.5 million units in September following reports that some of the devices had caught fire.

Samsung is one of South Korea's most important "chaebol" or family-run conglomerates, a group including LG, Hyundai and Hanjin Group, which owns Korean Air.

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